Costume Designer Colleen Atwood Snow White and The Huntsman
Today saw the official release of Rupert Sanders’ eagerly anticipated Snow White and The Huntsman. The film features stars such as Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, Bob Hoskins and Ray Winstone. But one three time Oscar winner you won’t see on screen is costume designer Colleen Atwood, who has today launched her own clothing line for the US’s Home Shopping Channel.
Having received critical acclaim for her work on Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Alice in Wonderland, the costumer and her work are once again in the spotlight. Here, Colleen Atwood spills about working on the most highly awaited film of the year; Snow White and The Huntsman
On dressing Kristen Stewart as Snow White
Snow White is hardly an action hero but she does a lot of action in a feminine costume. At the beginning of the story, Kristen wears a long dress over leggings with the two layers and ankle boots. I put Kristen in leggings so that when she fell, I didn’t have to worry about her underwear showing! I made the costume out of materials that blended with the environment and that would hold up under the situations that I had to put the costume through. I made about 20 of them! I put in all kinds of stretch panels that are hidden in seams so that it’s totally flexible and you’re able to lift your arms over your head, able to shoot a bow and arrow and able to move in the costume. Kristen, who’s young and very fit, does most of the action herself, so it was key that that costume physically worked for her to do the work in.
On dressing Theron as Ravenna, and the symbolism involved.
In this movie, there are more symbolic elements in Ravenna’s costume and there’s always an element of trapped death in her costumes, such as the skeletal cage around her shoulders in her wedding costume – which was a one off. The trim of her blue costume is made with beetle wings from Thailand which are beetles that they eat! Another of her costumes has a reptilian quality, there’s three of the [that costume] because it’s an action costume as well. All the pieces come off so you can shoot without the heavy skirt if you want it to be less weight [and] that dress has huge stretch arm pits in it. There are all kinds of things like that incorporated into it if you know you’re going to [use it that way].
Throughout the film, her costumes progress from a lighter mood through a dark mood. The feather cape I knew had to turn into birds so that was one of the first things we started with. The gold dress underneath was a dress that goes through a black slick and comes out black, and when it does, it almost looks like old skin. There are all kinds of elements that you incorporate in the textures as you go.
On working with the actors
We talked about the characters and I showed them my ideas and listen to theirs. Charlize has been a model, but she’s also a great character actress on the inside, so her priorities were really character over beauty, and Kristen’s [were] as well. Kristen is a beautiful young woman, but she isn’t vane in the way that she’s looking at the mirror going ‘Oh, do I look fat in this?’. That was not where [either of them] were going with it. They were very into their characters.